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Bike/Train/Bike Commute

Old 11-06-22, 07:17 AM
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Bike/Train/Bike Commute

Hello all, I've been trying to figure out my best options for commuting about 18 miles to work and will be taking the train the majority of the way. My conundrum is getting my bike on and off of the train. The current closest station (3 miles north) is not ADA compliant and has a lot of stairs to go to the other side of the tracks (with a tunnel in between) and the new station is about a year from completion. I'm about 5'4", somewhat fit, but kept finding myself getting cut up from the gears and other components as I try to lug the bike to get on and off the train (again, more albeit smaller steps to go up to get on board). I'm looking for someone who has "mastered" this art of carrying/loading a bike without too much difficulty. I also feel kind of self-conscious, like I'm holding people up, but I'd better get over that soon once I hit 40 and have my newfound confidence. Ha!

Alternatively, I could ride up some hills and into the city to get to the next station which is ADA compliant, albeit old, and 5 miles further south (which is the direction I need to travel anyway). My husband thinks that option is more risky with the bike lanes disappearing as I get into the city streets before reaching the station.

Right now, I have two beater vintage road bikes. One to use to get to the train station (theoretically, I've not yet made its inaugural run and have been driving there instead) and the other to keep on campus to get to my final destination (1 mile). Part of me keeps stalking the $200ish folding bike I see someone selling locally but I'm trying to keep costs down so I'll probably resist that urge unless marked down a good bit more. Should I message the seller to see if he might be open to haggling? He dropped the price once already and it retails new for around $400.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-06-22, 09:41 AM
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Skip the train. Park and ride, as in - drive to a parking lot and bike the rest of the way so as to make the bike leg manageable. I would also watch some YT's on urban cycling to help get used to riding in traffic, its easy once you figure out the tips and tricks and get over your fear of riding with a lot of cars around.

I used to lighten the load and would bring in clothing and shoes on a rainy day to leave at work, when I wasn't biking, this way I wasn't carrying a load and could use a lighter road bike. All I needed was lunch (on the morning leg) keys, wallet and phone.

Last edited by Steve B.; 11-06-22 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 11-07-22, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Skip the train. Park and ride, as in - drive to a parking lot and bike the rest of the way so as to make the bike leg manageable. I would also watch some YT's on urban cycling to help get used to riding in traffic, its easy once you figure out the tips and tricks and get over your fear of riding with a lot of cars around.

I used to lighten the load and would bring in clothing and shoes on a rainy day to leave at work, when I wasn't biking, this way I wasn't carrying a load and could use a lighter road bike. All I needed was lunch (on the morning leg) keys, wallet and phone.
Thanks for your reply! I've been riding the train off and on for years, a 30 mile commute prior to this job, and can't quit now! I think I need to stop complicating things and just stick to the plan of one bike at each leg of the journey but will definitely check out more urban riding vids. Some from NYC were amazing! I liked the "bike lane bounty" ones and see how it's an issue on my commute already in certain spots. Grumble grumble!
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Old 11-07-22, 08:06 AM
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Now that I'm at 10 posts, let's see if I can post my pics finally!!!

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Old 11-07-22, 08:38 AM
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I have gone through this with our train (San Diego trolley). The stairs on our trolleys were steep and narrow. I just dealt with it, then altered my work schedule so I could ride the 20 miles each way instead of using the trolley. They have since replaced many of the trolley cars with flat ones, and the trolley is a good option, but I am now used to and embracing doing the full ride and also like saving the ticket cost. The trolley is now my "back-up plan" in case of emergency/lazyness.

Question: Do you mean that by having two bikes you would put the first bike in a locker at the first train station, and therefore that solves your problem of lifting it on/off the train?

That seems like a pretty good solution until the new train station is finished.

If that is not what you are saying, or if that won't work, I have a some thoughts on how you might make your commute easily doable:

If the folding bike works for you and makes it much easier to do the commute, $150 is a bargain, especially if that would mean one less car.

If you could alter your work hours, or just leave earlier, you could possibly ride to the "more city" train stop when there is less traffic. A good set of lights will be needed if it is still dark. Even if you leave at the time you usually do, have you tried it to see how bad it is? Maybe there is an alternate route on side streets that take you away from the major traffic?

Or, just resign to keep driving to the train station until the new station is complete.
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Old 11-07-22, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by timdow
I have gone through this with our train (San Diego trolley). The stairs on our trolleys were steep and narrow. I just dealt with it, then altered my work schedule so I could ride the 20 miles each way instead of using the trolley. They have since replaced many of the trolley cars with flat ones, and the trolley is a good option, but I am now used to and embracing doing the full ride and also like saving the ticket cost. The trolley is now my "back-up plan" in case of emergency/lazyness.

Question: Do you mean that by having two bikes you would put the first bike in a locker at the first train station, and therefore that solves your problem of lifting it on/off the train?

That seems like a pretty good solution until the new train station is finished.

If that is not what you are saying, or if that won't work, I have a some thoughts on how you might make your commute easily doable:

If the folding bike works for you and makes it much easier to do the commute, $150 is a bargain, especially if that would mean one less car.

If you could alter your work hours, or just leave earlier, you could possibly ride to the "more city" train stop when there is less traffic. A good set of lights will be needed if it is still dark. Even if you leave at the time you usually do, have you tried it to see how bad it is? Maybe there is an alternate route on side streets that take you away from the major traffic?

Or, just resign to keep driving to the train station until the new station is complete.
Yes, I would leave the first bike chained up to the blue fencing you see there at the station since there's no bike racks and no one seems to know about the ancient bike lockers that are still there. There are so many turns on the all-bike commute that it intimidates me, also takes about two hours. I agree the folding bike could be a really good option if I can swing the cost (Christmas gift?? lol). Now that daylight savings time has hit in Delaware it's lighter earlier and I leave my house around 6:30 am. Did just get two sets of bike lights from a bike safety event on campus and tried them out last week. LOVE the blinking feature, it illuminated at least 20 feet or so ahead of me. We have a "Bike to Work" day in May and I think it might be fun to try to prepare for that over the next few months. Just got a balaclava and riding jacket and gloves with a $100 gift card I won in a raffle for cleaning up litter. SCORE! I am trying to get a truly "clean commute" and encourage and connect with colleagues who do the same. Yes, it takes twice as long as driving but I can see my CO2 emissions saved on a calculator online and it's a good feeling.
Do you ask for special accommodations at work to adjust your hours for the bike commute? I'm nervous as I've only been in my position for six months but would like to take the earlier train home so as not to have 10.5 hour days (only 3 days a week due to a hybrid work schedule). If I work from the train, I think it's probably a good argument...
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Old 11-07-22, 09:12 AM
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I have been at my company for a lot of years, and have a very flexible work schedule. Don't know if "rocking the boat" after only 6 months is a good idea or not... judgement call there. Hopefully your employer will want to help, but I could also see where they might think that they are already allowing hybrid work.....

My bike commute w/o the train also takes 4 hours total round trip (1.5 to work, 2.5 home due to hills). I do it 2-3 times a week, then drive the other days. The route was a bit intimidating until I got used to it (about 2-weeks), then I found better ways, then even better ways, etc. I know my city better now. When my car wears out, I will retire it and not replace it. I think it is worth the time commuting to save car commuting costs and preserve the car I have for a lot longer (5k miles a year since starting this in 2015), and eventually save the cost of a new car. Additionally, I have lost 20 lbs and am staying fit!



Originally Posted by jaxy357
Yes, I would leave the first bike chained up to the blue fencing you see there at the station since there's no bike racks and no one seems to know about the ancient bike lockers that are still there. There are so many turns on the all-bike commute that it intimidates me, also takes about two hours. I agree the folding bike could be a really good option if I can swing the cost (Christmas gift?? lol). Now that daylight savings time has hit in Delaware it's lighter earlier and I leave my house around 6:30 am. Did just get two sets of bike lights from a bike safety event on campus and tried them out last week. LOVE the blinking feature, it illuminated at least 20 feet or so ahead of me. We have a "Bike to Work" day in May and I think it might be fun to try to prepare for that over the next few months. Just got a balaclava and riding jacket and gloves with a $100 gift card I won in a raffle for cleaning up litter. SCORE! I am trying to get a truly "clean commute" and encourage and connect with colleagues who do the same. Yes, it takes twice as long as driving but I can see my CO2 emissions saved on a calculator online and it's a good feeling.
Do you ask for special accommodations at work to adjust your hours for the bike commute? I'm nervous as I've only been in my position for six months but would like to take the earlier train home so as not to have 10.5 hour days (only 3 days a week due to a hybrid work schedule). If I work from the train, I think it's probably a good argument...
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Old 11-07-22, 09:30 AM
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That's awesome, Tim! It really takes dedication but if I can keep only coming in 3 days per week I think it's sustainable long term to put in these type of commuting hours. Our university just put out a big survey about riding bikes on campus, telecommuting, etc. from the Office of Sustainability and I put down on there that they should subsidize the cost of public transit passes, install more electric charging stations, etc. I'm glad they're paying attention to the impact of all these commuters because it's thousands and thousands each day.
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Old 11-08-22, 09:49 AM
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I currently do a bike-train-bike commute (finishes this week, and will be working a more palatable 12 miles from work instead of 25 at the new job). I just use one bike for the entire journey, and haven't had any issues with being cut up by my bike (also only 5'2"). I lift the non-drive side up onto my right shoulder and just walk it up/down the stairs. There are lifts at one end, but are normally taken up by people with luggage, so it's just easier/quicker to use the stairs. This is my bike in commuting mode, though for whatever reason, my saddlebag is missing my converse. It's usually a bit more full than that. The worst bit of my commute is the ridiculous bike storage areas on the train- definitely designed by someone who has never seen a bike...
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Old 11-08-22, 12:57 PM
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Very cool! This gives me a bit more confidence in my abilities... someday! Good luck with your new shorter commute!
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Old 11-09-22, 07:40 AM
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When my job first moved to our current location I tried the light rail. Then tried park and ride in for a week. The bottom line, light rail cost me more than an hour a day, saved me about $1. Decided that hour was worth the buck.
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Old 11-09-22, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by jaxy357
Yes, I would leave the first bike chained up to the blue fencing you see there at the station ... I am trying to get a truly "clean commute" and encourage and connect with colleagues who do the same. Yes, it takes twice as long as driving but I can see my CO2 emissions saved on a calculator online and it's a good feeling.
Do you ask for special accommodations at work to adjust your hours for the bike commute? I'm nervous as I've only been in my position for six months but would like to take the earlier train home so as not to have 10.5 hour days (only 3 days a week due to a hybrid work schedule). If I work from the train, I think it's probably a good argument...
I'd worry that the bike locked to the blue fence overnight would be quickly stolen.
Good for you on the "clean commute" goal! It is a good feeling, and maybe you will be the catalyst to get others around you to try it too, each one being one less car on the road.
Work accommodations will certainly vary by workplace. My wife has started bicycle commuting and her workplace adjusted by letting her bring her bike into the office since there are no bike parking facilities on the property. They already had flexible hours so she can come in earlier and leave earlier at her preference to match the sunlight.
I really like my folding bike for getting on and off the buses around here (we have no trains) and it rides just as well as a full size hybrid bike.
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Old 11-09-22, 09:16 AM
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What kind of folding bike do you have? I also get concerned about the bike being stolen but it would only be during the workday, not overnight luckily, and there's a security office right there.
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Old 11-09-22, 10:09 AM
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I have a really old Dahon, which is nothing special but works for it's intended purpose. I suspect any brand folder in good repair will work well for this.
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Old 11-11-22, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by dmwill
I have a really old Dahon, which is nothing special but works for it's intended purpose. I suspect any brand folder in good repair will work well for this.
You've inspired me to put in an offer for one I just found on ebay locally. Fingers crossed!
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Old 11-20-22, 02:58 PM
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In NL (and many other EU countries) having a bike on each end is probably the dominant way of doing it. The bikes are simple upright Dutch single speed or maybe 3-8 speed internal (City Bikes | LocalMile). I've known many people who'd buy a new bike and then go at it with some spray paint to make it look older, cheaper and not worth stealing :-)
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Old 11-20-22, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jaxy357
My conundrum is getting my bike on and off of the train. I'm about 5'4", somewhat fit, but kept finding myself getting cut up from the gears and other components as I try to lug the bike to get on and off the train (again, more albeit smaller steps to go up to get on board). I'm looking for someone who has "mastered" this art of carrying/loading a bike without too much difficulty. I also feel kind of self-conscious, like I'm holding people up.

I'm not that familiar with Delaware transit outside of the beaches but I'm guessing you're talking about using the bike cars on Northeast Corridor Amtrak? When I've taken a bike on the Amtrak I'm usually taking my folding bike but I've had some experiences taking a full size bike on the Maryland commuter rail bike cars, which have slick, small metal steps and narrow entryways like the Amtrak. I've usually been able to put my right shoulder under the top tube which helps to get the pedals and chainrings away from my lower body as I go up the steps. You might also consider a carrying strap that fastens between the seat and down tubes - there are some options on Etsy and other places. Folding pedals and/or a chaincase might also help to prevent contact going up the stairs. Maybe might also help with getting up the stairs more quickly as well?
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Old 11-22-22, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by ericoseveins
I'm not that familiar with Delaware transit outside of the beaches but I'm guessing you're talking about using the bike cars on Northeast Corridor Amtrak? When I've taken a bike on the Amtrak I'm usually taking my folding bike but I've had some experiences taking a full size bike on the Maryland commuter rail bike cars, which have slick, small metal steps and narrow entryways like the Amtrak. I've usually been able to put my right shoulder under the top tube which helps to get the pedals and chainrings away from my lower body as I go up the steps. You might also consider a carrying strap that fastens between the seat and down tubes - there are some options on Etsy and other places. Folding pedals and/or a chaincase might also help to prevent contact going up the stairs. Maybe might also help with getting up the stairs more quickly as well?
I should really take some pics so you all could see what I'm working with. It's not pretty on either end of the journey with tall staircases to navigate but I'm talking about SEPTA, not Amtrak. Couldn't afford to travel on Amtrak more than once in a blue moon! I tried out a folding bike over the weekend (test ride) and it was okay but a little wobbly maybe? And I need more power going up hills I think. Leaning towards one bike on each end, both beater bikes.
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Old 12-22-22, 07:36 AM
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Lil update: donated the Stella due to gear shifting issues (to my local bike co-op). Bought a cheap folding bike (Schwinn Loop) from same co-op, only took it on a test ride so far and it did pretty well going uphill. Score! Have to get lights, bell and carry strap configured on the new bike. Stay tuned! Oh yeah, I also bought a vintage Free Spirit project bike that needs the wheels rebuilt. Maybe I'll get enough hours in at the co-op before Ride to Work day in May, haha. I need a lot of handholding but signed up to volunteer there and am trying to be somewhat useful to total newbs...whereas I'm like a mostly-newb now.
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